The third-highest ranking officer in the Greenville County Sheriff's Office has been fired after an internal affairs investigation concluded that he assisted criminals and didn't keep Sheriff's Office business secure, The Greenville News has learned.
Brendan Shea Smith, who is perhaps best known as a longtime department spokesman, was fired Thursday, according to the personnel order terminating his employment.
Despite repeated attempts, Smith couldn't be reached for comment.
Sheriff Steve Loftis said he placed Smith, 44, on paid administrative leave last week. Loftis said he received information about Smith from the FBI that the agency uncovered as part of another investigation. That's when Loftis ordered an internal review.
Never miss a local story.
In addition to assisting criminals and not keeping department business secure, Smith was fired for conduct unbecoming an officer and having conversations with known criminals, according to the order terminating him.
The order, obtained by The News, lists the department rules and regulations by number and heading, but doesn't detail the specific findings against Smith.
The investigation has now become a criminal investigation, according to a statement released by the Sheriff's Office. No charges have been filed.
Thirteenth Circuit Solicitor Walt Wilkins couldn't be reached for comment on any criminal investigation. The U.S. Attorney's Office wouldn't confirm or deny if a federal investigation was underway.
Jonathan Smith, a spokesman who isn't related to Shea Smith, confirmed that Smith had been fired for violating rules and regulations of the office but wouldn't say specifically what the violations were.
Shea Smith's gun, badge and car were taken away last week, Loftis said, which is normal procedure for an officer placed on administrative leave.
Smith, a major, headed the administrative division in the Sheriff's Office. He had been with the department for at least two decades, Loftis said.
The Sheriff's Office also has a major who oversees operations. Their supervisor is Chief Deputy John Eldridge, who reports to the sheriff, an elected position.
Smith grew up in Greenville and graduated from Berea High School in 1987 and the University of South Carolina Upstate.